How to get a job in the art world

How to get a job in the art world

Art gallery workers

‘Don’t study art, you’ll never get a job’. Sound familiar? Despite its reputation for being a niche and difficult job market to break into, the creative sector is, in fact, flourishing. In the UK, the creative and cultural industries are worth a staggering £84.1 billion to the economy and employ 2.8 million people. This accounts for 8% of all jobs in the North West. And with a strong position globally there are plenty of opportunities for creative graduates to explore roles across the world.

Lindsey explains:

“It’s a global market with many people getting jobs abroad and many people coming to the UK for work in the sector. Several key posts at Tate Liverpool have been held by people from across Europe such as Germany, Poland, Italy and Portugal and further afield from the US.”

So, why are jobs in this sector considered difficult to obtain?

“I often get asked ‘how did you get your job’ as if there is some mystery about it or a sneaky route in. So we in the sector need to get the information out there more effectively! The majority of galleries in the UK are publicly funded through direct government or Arts Council grants, trusts and foundations, sponsorship and individual giving. Galleries are for everyone, giving access to the arts for all. Galleries need people who are passionate about this and able to persuade others that funding the arts has direct public benefit.”

A successful art gallery relies on the skills and passion of its people. What are the skills that are most sought after?

“We need people who are excellent project managers, communicators and influencers; accurate with finance and budgets; have practical building skills in creating different spaces for showing art works; creative thinkers to find solutions to tricky problems. We need people who are knowledgeable about art history and contemporary art practice; people with curiosity, research, writing and publishing skills; people who can communicate clearly about art and have knowledge of arts education, arts and health, and community development. Artists are fundamental to our work in local communities and within non-arts sectors making a positive difference to people’s lives.”

Most galleries and other cultural venues generate income through trading arms such as shops and cafes, so people with business, retail and catering skills are also essential.

How do I get an edge on the competition?

If you’re considering a career in the arts sector Lindsey advises getting as much experience as you can. Volunteering and taking part in placements and internships with art and cultural organisations will help you to gain this vital experience.

Keeping on top of the art world is also important when it comes to demonstrating your passion at the interview stage. Make sure you’re aware of exhibitions and other events in the art calendar and try to visit as many as you can, spend time reading art publications, connect with people in the business by attending talks, events or private viewings, and consider starting a blog or post to social media about your own interests.

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in the arts, why not study at LJMU? Search for a course that interests you within the Liverpool School of Art and Design or the Liverpool Screen School to find out more about career prospects. You can also find out what students think of studying fine art.


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